Now that you have your planning method down, let’s figure out some great techniques for staying organized during class.

Taking time to structure your notes can have a big impact later on when that exam, quiz or project pops up. If your notes are clear, concise, and easy to locate, you are already setting yourself up to succeed. Let’s dive into some easy tips for note taking success!

Organization 101

Let’s set the scene:

Your chemistry exam is this Friday and you’re getting a head start by going through your notes and practice questions. You open your notebook only to find…gasp! your chemistry notes are interspersed with world history facts and quotes from your literature class. You know you took more notes than this! You scramble through five other notebooks and try to compile all of your chemistry notes into one place.

Ah, If you had only kept all of your notes for each class…separate.

One of the simplest ways to keeping your notes organized is also keeping them separate. Having a notebook (or binder) for each class saves much time and stress when it comes to reviewing for an exam.

Weather it’s physical notebooks, tabs, or folders on your computer, keep them all in one place and organized by subject.

Tried and True Note Taking Methods

Now that you have your subjects separated and are now ready to start taking notes, the trick is finding a method that sticks. To find the best way that works for your learning style or class topic check out the examples below.

P.S. Don’t forget to write the date!

Cornell Method

How it works: Paper is divided into three sections: cues, notes, summary. The student makes notes during class, then reviews notes after class by writing key words, cues, or phrases in “cues”. A summary of notes is given at the bottom.


  • Provides multiple ways to review
  • Keeps notes neat and organized by page



How It Works: Organized by topic, branching out into subtopics


  • Great for visual learners
  • Helps you make connections between lessons and topics
  • Easy to set up


How It Works: Uses headings and bullet points to organize by main topic, subtopics, and details


  • Good for note taking that requires a lot of detail
  • Great method for typing
  • Easy to edit


How It Works: uses columns to organize information by relation


  • Good for lessons that require a lot of facts
  • Keeps the page neat and organized
  • Easy to review and study

Tips for Taking Speedy Notes

Do you ever feel like your hand can’t keep up with your teacher? Try some of these tricks to help alleviate hand cramp:

  • Use abbreviations, just make sure you can decode them when reviewing later on.
  • Try not to get stuck in the mode of copying an entire slide or writing what the teacher says verbatim. You’ll have a hard time keeping up. Instead, pick out key words or phrases that stand out and use your own language.
  • If you already know a fact, no need to spend time taking notes on it.
  • Take cues from your teacher – if they write something on the board, you bet that it will be important. Notice that they seem particularly passionate on a certain topic? Write it down!

No matter which method you choose, your note taking skills are sure to improve with a little practice and a lot of paper.